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Understanding Electrostatic and Thermal Coatings

Parts drying after coatings applied at PCTM

When metal objects need to be protected from outdoor elements, chemicals, or general wear and tear, they can be coated using either electrostatic or thermal spray methods. Both protect the substrate, but each process does so differently. When considering using either, it is important to understand how these two processes work.

Electrostatic Coating

As its name implies, electrostatic coating harnesses the power of static electricity to adhere paint or coating particles to metal. In this coating process, aerosolized particles of a liquid paint get positively charged as they are sprayed onto a negatively charged metal surface. The attraction between the positive and negative charges causes the coating to cling and bond strongly and evenly to the metal. The static pull of the coating to the metal substrate also significantly reduces the amount of overspray, or spray that misses the target.

Electrostatic coating can be used on any metal substrate and is commonly used on automobiles, appliances, decorative railings, cabinets, shelving, doors, and so much more. These types of coatings are also widely used on the exterior of warehouses, sheds, and commercial buildings.

Almost any oil-based paint or fluoropolymer can be applied electrostatically. This also means that electrostatic coatings can come in any color. Due to the nature of the material being used, electrostatic coatings require very little maintenance and do not require special cleaners.

Thermal Spraying

Developed over 100 years ago, thermal spray coating has long been used to protect metal and, more recently, certain plastic substrates from extreme heat, electricity, and damage from environmental and chemical exposure.

There are four common thermal spraying methods: plasma spray, arc spray, high-velocity oxygen fuel spray (HVOF), and flame spray. Which one is used depends upon the substrate being coated and what type of protection it needs. Essentially, each of these four methods involves using heat to melt powder or metal coatings to droplet form and then power-spraying those molten droplets at high pressure and temperature onto a substrate.

Thermal coating is not simply a form of painting a substrate—it is a way to provide extremely durable protection and various surface properties. Thermal spraying can cover metal or certain plastics with a protective layer of other metals, such as steel, tungsten carbides, and nickel-chrome carbides, or a layer of ceramic. The coating can range from thin to thick as needed. And, because thermal spray coatings can also include antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, medical applications are on the rise.

Due to the high temperatures, thermal spraying is used only on materials that can safely be heated over 386 °F. Thermal spraying is commonly used in many industries, such as airplane, automobile, biomedical, and other manufacturing. Because there are several methods of thermal spraying, there is great diversity in how this type of coating can be used.

Benefits of Electrostatic and Thermal Spray Coating

Electrostatic and thermal spray processes create coatings that are durable and resistant to the elements and can provide a wide range of desired appearances and special properties. Electrostatic coatings are uniform and thin, while thermal spray options can produce a range of thicknesses that may increase durability and versatility.

Thermal spray can apply coatings to a wide variety of substrates, and it can be used to apply a variety of coating materials that have many useful qualities, such as antibacterial properties. Thermal spray coatings can even be textured to provide traction on step or platform surfaces.

No matter the substrate to be protected, Precision Coating Technology & Manufacturing offers unparalleled industrial coating services. No project is too big or small.

For more details or a coating project quote, contact us at Precision Coating Technology & Manufacturing today.

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